Climate Action – NOW!

June 20, 2024
a picture of a lady speaking at a climate

High atop Kathmandu, surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Himalayas in Chandragiri Municipality, I found myself amidst a gathering that transcended borders, convened to address one of the most pressing challenges of our times: the climate crisis.

Born out of the Right Honourable Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s pledge during the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) high-level side event to raise awareness of climate change and advance the mountain agenda in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiation process, the Government of Nepal organized an International Expert Dialogue on Mountain, People and Climate from May 22–23, 2024.

This event brought together over 250 policy makers, practitioners and delegates from around the world, including Nepal, to shine light on how climate change is impacting the mountain communities and beyond; as well as to forge a path towards a sustainable tomorrow. 

As one of the  co-organizers of this international expert dialogue, along with other development partners, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) played a pivotal role in guiding the discourse, coordinating among United Nation (UN) entities, and fortifying communication endeavors to enhance the event's impact and outreach. In this process, and in the true spirit of leaving no one behind, UNDP facilitated representation from local communities, local and provincial governments, as well as international experts at this event thus amplifying a collective call to action for urgent measures addressing climate change. 

As the dialogue unfolded across numerous panel discussions, its essence permeated throughout the two-day event, as experts, practitioners, government officials, and members of civil society alike engaged in a collective exploration of the most pressing concerns of climate change, as well as strategies to tackle them for the mountain communities and beyond. 

Reflecting on the multitude of insights gained, it became very clear that the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is too high a target as it presents a challenge for mountain ecosystems and the communities reliant upon them. This realization was underscored by a wealth of scientific evidence detailing the alarming consequences of climate change: from the accelerated pace of warming to the erratic shifts in monsoon patterns, the retreat of glaciers, the diminishing frequency of snowfall, and the glacial lake outburst floods.

a group picture at the International Expert Dialogue on Mountain, People, and Climate


As I absorbed these revelations, it became evident that urgent action is not just necessary, but essential. The urgency of the situation demands a swift mobilization of climate finance to fund initiatives that will mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change and safeguard vulnerable communities. Investing in the climate should not be a luxury; rather, it should be the bare minimal we do for the generations to come.

And addressing such complex, transboundary challenges necessitates embracing equally comprehensive, transboundary solutions. It is imperative that we acknowledge the pressing need to empower local stakeholders, drawing upon their invaluable indigenous wisdom, while relieving them of the disproportionate burden of climate change. Central to this endeavor is the utilization of existing knowledge platforms, regional partnerships, and global cooperation networks. Mountains serve as vast repositories of invaluable data, information, and knowledge, making them pivotal hubs for sustainable solutions.

And in this journey, there is tremendous scope for us to reframe our perspective and recognize the mountains of opportunity that emerge from embracing diversity. By managing mountain ecosystems while upholding the rights of indigenous people and local communities, we bolster mountain biodiversity and ecosystem services, thereby advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, there are opportunities to invest in green growth initiatives, steering us toward a more resilient and sustainable economy. Such investments prioritize the twin imperatives of climate action and environmental conservation while fostering social equity and justice.

The insights gained at this expert dialogue was also shared at the Bonn Climate Conference in June – a historic first to shine light on the mountain agenda. Furthermore, these insights will also be echoed at the COP 29, to reach people in all corners of the world and instill the realization that climate change is a crisis that will affect us all.

As I reflect on the deliberations at the event, I am reminder of the words of Mahatma Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." This timeless wisdom serves as a poignant reminder that each of us holds the power to shape the future we envision. We have the capacity to enact meaningful change, whether through advocating for policy reforms, supporting grassroots endeavors, or embracing sustainability in our daily choices.

The International Expert Dialogue on Mountain, People, and Climate was more than just a conference. It served as a catalyst to underscore the need for urgent climate action for the people, planet and prosperity. From the participants gathered at the event-  from the high mountains to the low lying plains - the call to action resounded loud and clear: the time for climate action is now!